labyrinthine thoughts

Sarah Cunningham's picture

Where I am sitting now: in a Starbucks on Broadway near 110th St, on the Upper West Side of New York, nearly 10 o'clock on Saturday night, the only place and time I've managed to get internet access and a modicum of space and time to myself. Better do this posting now; tomorrow will be full with rehearsal, and I need to practice my parts before that. This is actually OK with me as a way to live (so far...) The pleasure in the work to be done, and the stimulation and challenge of what I'm learning, more than outweigh the physical fatigue. So I sit and try to travel mentally back to the Labyrinth, and to my time there on Thursday, only a couple of days ago. My path from there to here is like a labyrinth in itself, twisting and turning through different locations and activities, meeting new people, trying to keep track of the threads of different conversations, different communication processes. I'm grateful for the opportunity to think myself back to the peaceful moments at the (Bryn Mawr) Labyrinth, just as I was grateful to have an assigned hour of contemplation. It makes me think, now, that integral to our ecological disaster in the present-day world, is the sheer pace of our life, the speed of it, the quantity of activity and experience we expect to pack into every day. How on earth can we expect to be aware of what is going on around us, of the existence and concerns of non-human beings, of the effect we are having on them and they on us, when we have assigned ourselves a more than full schedule we can barely keep up with? I do my best to allow myself enough time to breathe, to pause for unnecessary conversations, to check in with how I feel. The way I prioritize my attention from moment to moment is what determines how healthy and happy I can be as time goes on. I want to learn what Anne has to teach about organizing my thoughts into a coherent, convincing paper. I have a lot to say that means something to me, and I'm here in this class, here in school again, because I have a need and a desire to find ways of communicating, and a community to share and to think with, and it seems I want to become more clear and effective in doing all this. But it is pointless to do that if I do not keep connected to what's important to me in the first place, which is something about the way we're all-- birds, trees, bugs, humans-- interconnected; and that has to do with staying connected to a listening part of myself. So the discussion about the distractions of meeting outside are very relevant, I think, at least for me, to what I want to be learning here. 

My time at the labyrinth: I walked the circuitous intertwining paths, enjoying the awareness of the rolling ups and downs of the land; seeing the beech trees with much more awareness than before, sensing their presence. When I reached the center I took some time to stretch and dance a bit, a kind of movement meditation to complete the walking meditation of getting there. At some point I realized that the person lolling on the hammock near by was not in fact two people cuddling or making out, as my first impression, but a rather strange and corpulent middle-aged male, his shorts half pulled down revealing his underpants, more or less asleep with the remains of food in plastic containers on the ground nearby. An example of something I've noticed lately, the way one gradually sees more and more by looking at the same thing over a period of time; or maybe it's that one gradually makes more sense of what one sees. But I was glad I had not realized sooner, that this figure was some kind of weird hobo or maybe a homeless person, as I might have felt less safe doing my mid-labyrinth dance, which was risky enough even if only witnessed by other denizens of the college community. I completed the exit circuit, unwinding my steps, sat on the bench nearby for a bit, and went home to my next commitment: teaching a private music lesson. Looking forward to returning to the labyrinth next week.

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